Verdict in Winnipeg mail bombing to be broadcast live today

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Nearly three years after Guido Amsel was arrested and charged with sending letter bombs to his ex-wife’s home and two law firms, the 52-year-old Winnipeg man will learn his fate.

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Provincial court Judge Tracey Lord will deliver her verdict at 2 p.m. CT Thursday. CBC News will carry her decision live online.

While cameras are generally not allowed in Manitoba courtrooms, exceptions are made for certain high-profile cases.

Provincial court Judge Tracey Lord, sketched in November 2017, will deliver her verdict Thursday afternoon. (CBC)

Amsel has pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder, one count of aggravated assault and several explosives-related offences in connection with three bomb packages sent by Canada Post in July 2015 and a December 2013 explosion at his ex-wife’s home in the rural municipality of St. Clements. No one was injured in that incident.

Two of the bomb packages from 2015 were safely detonated by police, but a third went off in the hands of Winnipeg lawyer Maria Mitousis. She lost her right hand and suffered serious burns in the explosion at her River Avenue office.

Court heard the bomb had been placed in an audio recorder, which was mailed to the law firm and detonated when Mitousis pressed play.

Winnipeg lawyer Maria Mitousis lost her right hand and suffered serious injuries after a letter bomb exploded in her River Avenue office July 3, 2015. (John Einarson/CBC)

Amsel’s trial, which began Oct. 24, 2017, lasted eight weeks and heard from dozens of witnesses, including Amsel’s ex-wife Iris Amsel, who was a client of Mitousis.

Court heard the bombs were sent just one week before a scheduled auction to satisfy a debt Amsel owed to his ex-wife.

Amsel accused ex of sending bombs

Mitousis had represented Iris in an ongoing civil dispute beginning in 2010, years after the couple separated.

The court heard Amsel filed for divorce in 2001, about 10 years after he and Iris immigrated to Canada from their native Germany. Their divorce was finalized in August 2004, but the two continued to work together at two auto-body businesses Amsel had started.

Iris Amsel, Amsel’s wife, testified during his trial on Nov. 21, 2017. (CBC)

A year later, Amsel married a woman from the Philippines. He had met her online. At that point, he and Iris each took ownership of one of the auto-body shops and divided their assets.

Iris testified that she continued to work with Amsel until 2009, when he “forced [her] out,” after learning she had assumed a fake online identity years earlier in an effort to disrupt his relationship with his new wife. 

Iris admitted creating a fake online identity of a man named Adrian prior to Amsel’s new marriage, but denied contacting his soon-to-be wife directly. 

Amsel’s lawyer, Saheel Zaman, also accused Iris of sending dead flowers to the woman after a motorcycle accident, and said that when Amsel asked Iris to send a letter to Immigration Canada in support of his new wife, Iris wrote that the woman was a prostitute.

Iris denied both allegations. 

In 2010, Iris hired Mitousis and sued Amsel for money she said she was owed after the divorce. Amsel later filed a countersuit, which remained unresolved at the time of his 2015 arrest. 

Amsel told the judge Iris stole $3 million from his business after their divorce and his lawyers accused her of mailing the letter bombs to herself and the two law firms in order to blame her ex-husband and interfere with his counter-suit.

DNA tied Guido Amsel to bombs

Court testimony revealed Amsel’s DNA had been found on a piece of string found near a crater left by a 2013 explosion outside Iris Amsel’s house and on a plastic pouch that held the digital recorder delivered to Mitousis.

Amsel’s hands are shown in this court exhibit photo. It’s one of many photos Winnipeg police took of the accused after his arrest in July 2015 for allegedly sending three letter bombs. (Caroline Barghout/CBC)

The Crown argued the string was part of a “tripwire” used to detonate the bomb, which the defence denied.

In December 2017, Lord ruled there were enough similarities and linkages between the three bombing events from July 2015 and the 2013 explosion that they were not coincidental and were the responsibility of the same person.

Her decision came after prosecutors argued a similar fact motion that would allow Lord to use the evidence of one bombing incident to assess another.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-mail-bombing-verdict-broadcast-1.4666610?cmp=rss